Larry Lemke
Professor, Department Chairperson
Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences
Institute for Great Lakes Research

Hydrogeology, Environmental Modeling, Geostatistics
Brooks Hall 314

Larry Lemke is a geologist and environmental scientist with deep ties to the State of Michigan, growing up in southeast Michigan and earning his B.S. degree in geology at Michigan State University. Early in his professional career, Larry spent 12 years working for Exxon and its subsidiaries exploring for oil and gas in the Rocky Mountains, Gulf of Mexico, North Sea, and the Peoples’ Republic of China. He returned to Michigan to earn his doctorate in environmental engineering at the University of Michigan in 2003. His research focuses on the fate and transport of contaminants in groundwater, air, and soil, with particular emphasis on human health and exposure risks in urban environments. He is currently Professor and Chair of the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Central Michigan University.

Honors & Awards

  • 2016 Michigan Association of State Universities Distinguished Professor of the Year Nominee 
  • 2015 Wayne State University Office of Teaching and Learning Faculty Fellow 
  • 2014 Wayne State University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Teaching Award with special designation for mentoring undergraduate research 
  • 2012 Wayne State University Career Development Chair 
  • 2008 National Science Foundation CAREER Award 
  • 2006 Wayne State University Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching


  • Ph.D., (Environmental Engineering) University of Michigan, 2003
  • M.B.A., (Business Administration) University of Denver, 1989
  • M.S., (Geosciences) University of Arizona, 1985
  • B.S., (Geology) Michigan State University, 1983

Research Interests

My research investigates the fate and transport of contaminants in groundwater, air, and soil, with particular emphasis on human health and exposure risks in urban environments.

Two overarching themes connect my research. The first involves the innovative application of deterministic and stochastic methods to describe spatial variability of physical and chemical characteristics of environmental systems. The second involves the assessment of alternative conceptual models to describe states and processes in those same systems. I am intensely curious about how decisions concerning the representation of spatial variability and the application of alternative conceptual models influence the outcomes of numerical models of natural and engineered systems. More importantly, I have come to appreciate the influence of environmental models on assessments of risks associated with exposures to environmental contaminants. Questions involving the development and application of spatially and temporally variable environmental models have important practical implications for decision makers seeking to minimize risks and costs associated with environmental hazards and for policy makers seeking to optimize health outcomes associated with potential environmental exposure risks.

Teaching Areas

  • GEL 240: Stratigraphy and Sedimentation
  • GEL 380: Hydrogeology
  • GEL 420: Applied Geostatistics
  • ENS 503: Environmental Modeling

Selected Publications

  • Jackson, L.E., and L.D. Lemke, 2019, Evidence for natural attenuation of 1,4-dioxane in a glacial aquifer system, Hydrogeology Journal, 27(8):3009-3024,
  • Miller, L., X. Xu, L.D. Lemke, and A.Wheeler, 2019, Interannual variation of air quality across an international airshed in Detroit (USA) and Windsor (Canada): A comparison of two sampling campaigns in both cities, Atmospheric Environment, 198:417-426.
  • Ravansari*, R. and L.D. Lemke, 2018, Portable X-ray fluorescence trace metal measurement in organic rich soils: pXRF response as a function of organic matter fraction, Geoderma, 573:55-65,
  • O'Leary*, B.F., J. Reiners Jr., X. Xu, and L.D. Lemke, 2016, Identification and influence of spatio-temporal outliers in urban air quality measurements, Science of the Total Environment, 573:55-65,
  • O'Leary*, B.F. and L.D. Lemke, 2014, Modeling Spatiotemporal Variability of Intra-Urban Air Pollutants in Detroit: A Pragmatic Approach, Atmospheric Environment, 94:417-427, DOI: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2014.05.010. .
  • Bugdalski*, L., L.D. Lemke, and S.P. McElmurry, 2014, Spatial Variation of Soil Lead in an Urban Community Garden: Implications for Risk-Based Sampling, Risk Analysis, 34(1):17-27, published online 24 April 2013, DOI: 10.1111/risa.12053. .
  • Lemke, L.D., L.E. Lamerato, X. Xu, J.C. Booza, J. Reiners Jr., D.M. Raymond III, P.J. Villeneuve, E. Lavigne, D. Larkin, and H.J. Krouse, 2014, Geospatial relationships of air pollution and asthma morbidity across the Detroit-Windsor international border: Study design and preliminary results, Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, 24:346–357, pub. online 13 Nov 2013, doi:10.1038/jes.2013.78. .
  • Miller*, L., L.D. Lemke, X. Xu, S.M. Molaroni*, H. You, A. Wheeler, J. Booza, A. Grgicak-Mannion, R. Krajenta, P. Graniero, H. Krouse, L. Lamerato, D. Raymond, J. Reiners, Jr., and L. Weglicki, 2010, Intra-urban correlation and spatial variability of air toxics across an International Airshed in Detroit, MI (USA) and Windsor, ON (Canada), Atmospheric Environment, published online Jan 29, 2010, DOI: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2009.12.030. .
  • Lemke, L.D. and J.A. Cypher*, 2010, Postaudit evaluation of conceptual model uncertainty for a glacial aquifer groundwater flow and transport model, Hydrogeology Journal, published online Jan 9, 2010, DOI: 10.1007/s10040-009-0554-8. .
  • Lemke, L.D. and A.S. Bahrou*, 2009, Partitioned multiobjective risk modeling of carcinogenic compounds in groundwater, Stochastic Environmental Research and Risk Assessment (SERRA), 23(1) 27-39 – published online Oct 17, 2007, DOI: 10.1007/s00477-007-0192-4. .
  • Lemke, L.D. and L.M. Abriola, 2006, Modeling dense nonaqueous phase liquid mass removal in nonuniform formations: Linking source zone architecture and system response, Geosphere 2(2) 74-82, DOI: 10.1130/GES00025.1. .
  • Lemke, L.D., L.M. Abriola, and J.R. Lang, 2004, Influence of Hydraulic Property Correlation on Predicted DNAPL Source Zone Architecture, Mass Recovery and Contaminant Flux, Water Resources Research. 40(12) W12417, doi: 10.1029/2004WR003061. .
  • Lemke, L.D., L.M. Abriola, and P. Goovaerts, 2004, DNAPL source zone characterization: Influence of hydraulic property correlation on predictions of DNAPL infiltration and entrapment, Water Resources Research. 40(1) W01511, doi: 10.1029/2003WR001980.

*denotes student co-author